Legislators have accused the Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry of failing to maintain youth centres despite Finance minister Mthuli Ncube disbursing $3,49 billion for their upgrade in 2020.

This was exposed in a report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport and Arts on the state of youth interaction centres in Zimbabwe. The report said only 2% of the budget was channelled towards sprucing up the centres. The report said local authorities also failed to finance the rehabilitation of the youth centres despite receiving funding.

“A typical example is that of Masvingo Rural District Council which received a total of $45 million from the devolution fund, but nothing was channelled towards interact centres, hence rendering these places less attractive to young people,” the report read.

MPs raise red flag over $3,49bn youth funds
MPs raise red flag over $3,49bn youth funds

“During field visits to youth interaction centres, the committee noted lack of maintenance of the facilities by the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry and local authorities. The committee also observed that there were no security personnel to constantly monitor and check the facilities at most of the recreational centres visited, thereby exposing them to vandalism and theft.”

The centres visited also lacked expert groundsmen to maintain them. Committee chairperson Mathias Tongofa said: “There is a need for the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry to consider financial investments through public-private flag over $3,49bn youth funds

Public-private partnerships for purposes of upgrading and maintenance of interact centres by January 31, 2023.”

Tongofa said Ncube should allocate 20% of the national budget to the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry. “Local authorities must set aside at least 30% (of their budgets) towards interact centres and also 15% from devolution funds must be channelled towards youth interact centres by December 31, 2022.”

MPs also said the youth interaction centres must have facilities for people with disabilities.

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